Opera Scotland

Street Scene 1989Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Street Scene

The programme for the 1988-89 season of Scottish Opera opened with the company's first production of a work by Tippett, Midsummer Marriage. The other new productions were Fledermaus, Rheingold, Don Giovanni, Oedipus Rex, Traviata and Street Scene. The revivals were Magic Flute, Iolanthe, and Bohème, In the autumn the previous season's Richard Jones Così fan tutte, redirected by Tim Hopkins, went out on the medium-scale tour. There was also a small-scale, piano-accompanied tour of Don Carlos, so far Scottish Opera's only attempt at this work.

When David Pountney, having begun his career at Scottish Opera, moved to ENO, it somehow seemed obvious that an element of regular collaboration would follow, so this co-production of Street Scene was long overdue. John Mauceri, an authority on the strange combination of opera and Broadway of which this may be the best example, conducted a fizzing performance which was beautifully staged in every way. David Fielding's set, an apparently massive and solid facade, swung back quickly to provide space for the important dance sequence. Most of the singers managed the varied accents required in the dialogue with some success. Sadly it did not appear in revival either in Scotland or in London, after its initial run. And the hoped-for collaboration didn't take off either - only Schnittke's Life with an Idiot following the same route (again without any revival).

The entire enterprise was hugely enjoyable, even if the work is not perfect. The central dramas are the tragedy surrounding the murder of Anna Maurrant by a jealous husband, and their daughter Rose's desperate wish to escape from New York with (or, as it proves, without) bright young neighbour Sam. The context surrounding these events is elaborately laid out as we meet the denizens of this New York brownstone block, largely first-generation immigrants - from Italy, Norway, Germany, Scotland, Wales. The challenge for the small-part players in terms of sustaining character and interest is clear, and generally works very well. There were no weak links among the major roles, with Janis Kelly fitting seamlessy in with the three leading American performers - Kristine Ciesinski, Spiro Malas ans Mark Beudert.

One souvenir which does survive from the production is that Decca took the opportunity to make a studio recording. They imported a number of star performers to beef up the cast. Josephine Barstow, Samuel Ramey and Angelina Réaux sing Anna, Frank and Rose, with Jerry Hadley (Sam), Kurt Ollmann (Harry), David Kuebler (Daniel) and Barbara Bonney (Jenny). Even the two nursemaids are played by Arleen Augér and Della Jones! Many of the stage cast survive to make a vivid impression, and the orchestra under Mauceri's direction is wonderfully characterful.

Performance DatesStreet Scene 1989

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

23 May, 19.15 25 May, 19.15 27 May, 19.15 31 May, 19.15 1 Jun, 19.15

Empire Theatre, Liverpool | Liverpool

8 Jun, 19.15

Theatre Royal, Newcastle | Newcastle-upon-Tyne

14 Jun, 19.15 16 Jun, 19.15

Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

22 Jun, 19.15

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